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A little history of Lyon manécanterie

The façade | Daderot / Public domain
Festivities House Henri II of France Catherine de Medici Lyon manécanterie

The cantors' house

Oh, what’s a manécanterie, by the way? It’s a school of religious singers.

The name comes from mansio cantarum, which means "cantors house", or maybe from mane cantare, "sing on morning", because the little clerics came to sing at 3 hours AM!

A text dating back to 1345 says in Lyon city, the cantor who sang the first mass was called manecantans!

The building was raised on an old pagan temple dedicated to Pallas.

Anyway, in the 12th century, it was mentioned as a dapiférie, a kind of refectory for chapter’s monks.

In 1394, they restored the building. Then in 1419, the building site ended and they called it manécanterie, a singing school for clerics of the cathedral of St-Jean.

Transformations and rebirth

During wars of religion, in 1562, the terrible baron des Adrets damaged the façade.

And yet, we had sculpted characters in small niches (we still can see 4 of them): a saint, a Virgin Mary, a knight...

In the 17th century, they added a floor. In the middle of the 19th century, architect Desjardins added the stony foundation.

In 1876, vaults collapsed, so architect Louvier rebuilt the missing part. They also put an attic above the cornice. Finally, they added windows everywhere.

You know what? In the 16th century, Italian actors came from Rome to perform here!

In 1548, king Henri II and Catherine of Medici were welcomed with great pomp and they attended a play, "La Calandria", written by Bernardo da Bibbiena.

The place was beautifully decorated for the occasion. Nowadays, no more parties! But the manécanterie houses the cathedral museum...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!